Back to IndieWire

Guest Post: Highlighting New Directing Talent

Guest Post: Highlighting New Directing Talent

Tonight, AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women will have its 2012 showcase at the DGA. Each year this highly selective program offers eight talented women a tuition-free training program and the opportunity to direct a short. This year’s lineup includes women with previous successful careers in acting and playwriting, fashion, stop-motion animation, film editing and commercial producing.

The American Film Institute established the Directing Workshop for Women in 1974.  The workshop is designed to provide talented women who have established themselves within film, television, and theater with the opportunity to direct narrative projects. Since its inception, such talented women as Lesli Linka Glatter, Randa Haines, and Maya Angelou have directed Workshop projects.

With original score by Grammy Award winner Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls, and cinematography by D.P. Nancy Schreiber, director Denise Plumb’s dark comedy PAST DUE examines a quiet life turned upside-down by the relentless harassment of a debt collector. “I’m inspired to tell thoughtful, relatable stories that don’t take the audience for granted but take them on a ride” – Denise Plumb,

Daughter of Sidney Poitier and director in her own right, Anika Poitier unveils her recent project, BLACK IRISH, a story where a young man struggling to get a much-needed promotion must confront his true identity. “I made this film because I was drawn to the idea that we show different parts of ourselves to different people, and that the parts we keep in the shadows are usually the most interesting” – Anika Poitier.

Film professor and director of Graduate Study at Columbia College Chicago, director Wenhwa Ts’ao examines post traumatic stress disorder in war veterans. TOWING follows a female soldier who is yet again forced to confront a meaningless death. “I’m drawn to the story of TOWING because the main character is complex and dynamic as all human beings are. She is a fighter in battlefield and in life” – Wenhwa Ts’ao.

Editor of indie feature PARIAH and writer-director in her own right, Mako Kamitsuna follows a woman vying to become the first female astronaut in her historic drama, SHE, WHO EXCELS IN SOLITUDE – inspired by the true story of Mercury 13.  “The topic of women in aviation has always been my personal interest and fascination.  Years ago I started reading about female civilian pilots’ role in WW2.  That research led me to discover Russian’s female-only combat fighters during the Great Patriotic War (for which I now have a feature-length screenplay).  Along the same tangent, I have come to learn about NASA’s covert program to recruit female astronaut in the shadow of Mercury 7, American’s first seven astronauts.  In many ways, these women are true pioneers who aspired to go where no one dared.  By making this film, I wanted to recognize their unparalleled courage and grace that not only inspired but empowered me personally” – Mako Kamitsuna.

With a strong background in stop-motion animation, director Trisha Gum, currently assistant director at Robot Chicken, debuts her first live action short, LOSING FERGUSON. After the death of her family, a woman rekindles a relationship with her childhood imaginary friend. “As a female filmmaker it is important to me to tell stories from a woman’s point of view. I love creating stories with strong and interesting female leads. Losing Ferguson gave me the opportunity to explore a quirky but lovable leading lady as well as her furry and cute imaginary best friend. It was amazing to see this script come to life and I am honored to have had a talented crew to help me make this film”- Trisha Gum

Playwright and filmmaker Jane Pickett explores explicit themes of male sexuality, intimacy, and the concept of public decency in her emotionally charged short film THE MEN’S ROOM, when a young man ventures into a park for a sexual encounter with a stranger.  “I read somewhere that shorts provide a good form for getting at controversial subject matter. That immediately grabbed me. And soon after, during one of my daily walks in Griffith Park, I passed by two guys checking each other out at a fork in the road. Now they may have just been hanging out, but nonetheless, it got me thinking about gay cruising in public and the heavily debated issues that come up there. It struck me how cinematic this kind of moment is … how one must pick up and send out visual cues of interest meanwhile maintaining a public image of nonchalance” – Jane Pickett

Actress (SCRUBS) and writer-director Kit Pongetti follows two best friends as they camp out in a car and spy on parties in her coming-of-age film STAKEOUT – a story inspired by personal experience and pulled from her feature, GUY SPIES, set in 1986. “Stakeout is based on an autobiographical feature (Guy Spies) that I co-wrote with a friend from high school, about two teenaged best friends who stakeout parties instead of attending them.  But I what I really wanted to explore with the short, is the transformation that we went through – that every relationship goes through – when two people realize they want different things or are growing at different paces” –  Kit Pongetti

Music video director Bridget Palardy features Academy Award-nominated Karen Black in her original musical OOWIEWANNA. Her story follows a misfit 7 year-old who, transported to a vibrant other-world made of laundry, must face her deepest insecurities to escape intact.  “At it’s heart, OowieWanna is a simple story about a little girl trying to overcome an insecurity.  By having our protagonist enter a fantasy world, we were able to dramatize this internal struggle into an epic psychedelic quest. OowieWanna was a collaborative art project at every step of the way– from the music to the puppets to the production design.  I couldn’t have asked for a more incredible cast and crew” – Bridget Palardy

The 2012 Directing Workshop for Women Showcase is today, May 8th, at 7:30pm. The DGA is located at 7920 W. Sunset Blvd. RSVP here.

More information on the eight directors and their films.


Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: News and tagged

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox